100 Years On — Remembering the Burning of the Custom House
As part of the Government’s Decade of Centenaries, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage will this month remember the Burning of the Custom House (the Department’s headquarters), which took place 100 years ago on May 25th 1921. On Tuesday, May 25th 2021, the Department will live stream a remembrance event in conjunction with relatives of both those who took part in the attack and civilians who were killed that day.
On May 25th, 1921, the IRA seized and set fire to the Custom House, one of the British Government’s most important administrative buildings in Ireland at the time. Nine people – five IRA members and four civilians – were killed in the gun-battles, which took place in and around the building. The neoclassical building, first opened in 1791, and its administrative records were completely destroyed. Six weeks later, the Irish and British sides in the conflict reached a truce, thus marking the end of the War of Independence. The attack on the Custom House was the largest single operation by the IRA during the War of Independence.
To mark the centenary:
- The Department will hold ‘Centenary of the Burning of the Custom House Event’ in conjunction with relatives of both those who took part in the attack and civilians who were killed in the attack at the Custom House on May 25th. The event will be attended by relatives of those killed. Minister Darragh O’Brien will represent the State. Due to public health restrictions, only 15 people can attend the event. The event will be streamed live on the department’s Facebook channel (@DeptHLGH).
- The Department has and is supporting a number of related initiatives, including:
the Beyond 2022 Research Showcase ‘Marking the Centenary of the Custom House Fire’ webinar events on May 25th, a conference streamed from the Custom House;
History Ireland magazine are producing two ‘Hedge School Podcasts’ – one about the building of the Custom House and the second about its destruction;
the ‘Burning of the Custom House Conference’, a weekly online lecture series that is running from early April to May 25th;
a specially commissioned online documentary on the events of 100 years ago, which will debut on the Department’s social media channels;
participation in a number of other media programmes and documentaries about the Burning of the Custom House.
- The Department will publish of a number of short social media videos, on the Burning of the Custom House and the building, on the department’s social media channels.
These initiatives are in support of the Government’s Decade of Centenaries Programme to mark the key events in Irish history leading up to, and including, the momentous events of 1912-23.
Commenting on the centenary remembrance events the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD, said:
“The Burning of the Custom House was one of the most significant events of the War of Independence. Six weeks after the burning, which saw 9 people killed and the building destroyed, the Irish and British sides agreed a truce. In the aftermath of its destruction, the new Free State Government, despite very difficult economic circumstances, took the really important step to rebuild this architectural masterpiece in the late 1920s.
“I am very pleased that my Department, which is headquartered in the Custom House, is playing its part in our Decade of Centenaries by remembering the Burning of the Custom House. As its custodians, on May 25th 2021, we will remember the nine people who were killed in the attack whilst also celebrating this remarkable building. I want to thank my officials, stakeholders, historians and the relatives who have worked together to ensure an appropriate programme of events will mark this important historical event.”